Seen at the Hackney Pirates, an excellent organisation in East London that aims to make reading, writing and learning in general more fun. I've been volunteering for them for a while so I'm completely biased, but still, their new book-staircase is just amazing. I'm trying to find out the names of the artists who made it - all their work is stunning, they made an excellent pirate-themed fake book-case with a secret door as well.
When I first volunteered with the Hackney Pirates, they were running a summer school for local children on a rooftop in Dalston. I then followed them through a series of unconventional classrooms: a room with a chicken coop just outside the window (gawk gawk gawwwwk), an empty building transformed into a pirates' ship, a make-shift beach shack next to a kebab shop with incredibly supportive owners who let the Pirates hold volunteer meetings in the shop. This year they've finally got a permanent ship, a building on Dalston high street complete with a shop, a cafe and a lovely educational space. And a book-staircase.
Instead of the rooftop summer school, there are now daily afternoon sessions. During the first half of the session, children do their homework or read a book; during the second half, they work on a creative project. Each child is paired with a volunteer to help and encourage them. It's a very simple formula and it works. I've seen so many young Pirates gain confidence, improve their reading and develop a new enthusiasm for learning over the years. I used to be quite a cynic about these things so it's been a good learning experience for me as well. If you're interested in becoming a volunteer, just visit their website and sign up for a training session. See you on the rainbow-coloured steps!